Postseason watch: AL has its first entrant

Thanks to a three-homer performance from Yordan Alvarez, the Astros became the first team to clinch a playoff spot in the American League with a 5-0 win over the A’s on Friday night. With another win on Saturday or a Guardians loss to the Twins, they can also clinch home-field advantage through the ALDS, given they win the AL West title.

With the Astros now dancing, the Mets are next closest to grabbing a spot. The Yankees and Braves are right behind them, though, so the duo of Mets rivals could steal their thunder if the Mets don’t get the job done quickly.

While a lot can happen in the standings between now and when the postseason starts on Oct. 7, here is what the playoff picture looks like heading into Saturday.

Reminder: As part of the new collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association, Major League Baseball expanded the postseason field from 10 to 12 teams ahead of the 2022 season. Both the AL and NL now have three Wild Card berths (up from two), with the top two seeds in each league receiving first-round byes. The other teams will pair up for the best-of-three Wild Card Series, in which all three games will be played at the home of the higher seed, with winners advancing to the Division Series.

IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY:
AL Wild Card Series (starts Oct. 7)
Best-of-three format (all games at higher seed)
Rays (6) at Guardians (3)
Mariners (5) at Blue Jays (4)

Astros (1) and Yankees (2) have byes

NL Wild Card Series (Oct. 7)
Best-of-three format (all games at higher seed)
Padres (6) at Cardinals (3)
Phillies (5) at Braves (4)

Dodgers (1) and Mets (2) have byes

AL Division Series (starts Oct. 11)
Best-of-five format
Mariners/Blue Jays at Astros
Rays/Guardians at Yankees

NL Division Series (starts Oct. 11)
Best-of-five format
Phillies/Braves at Dodgers
Padres/Cardinals at Mets

Who has clinched: The Dodgers and the Astros.

Who is next: The Mets (91-55) have a magic number of 5 to clinch a postseason berth.

3 key games from Friday
Astros 5, A’s 0
Padres 12, D-backs 3
Angels 8, Mariners 7

3 key games Saturday
Twins at Guardians, doubleheader at 1:10 p.m. and 7:10 p.m. ET
Phillies at Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET
Yankees at Brewers, 7:10 p.m. ET

Tight races to watch
AL Central: Guardians lead White Sox by 4 games, Twins by 5 games

NL East: Mets lead Braves by 1 game

AL Wild Card: Blue Jays lead Mariners by 1.5 games for 1st berth, Mariners lead Rays by 0.5 games for 2nd berth

NL Wild Card: Phillies lead Padres by 1.5 games for 2nd berth, Padres lead Brewers by 1.5 games for 3rd berth

Trending up: The Astros have won six in a row, clinching a playoff spot and now sit one game away from clinching home-field advantage through the ALDS

Trending down: The Rays have lost six of their last 10 and now sit in the third seed in the AL Wild Card race

CONTENDER BREAKDOWN

Clinched postseason berth: Dodgers, Astros
Almost there (90% postseason odds or better): Mets, Braves, Yankees, Cardinals, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rays, Phillies
In good shape (50-89% postseason odds): Guardians, Padres
In the mix (10-49% postseason odds): Brewers, White Sox
Still alive (Postseason odds above 0%): Twins, Orioles